Stop Confusing Your Pumpkins

Shannon Kernaghan Stop-Confusing-Your-Pumpkin-451 Stop Confusing Your Pumpkins Childhood Culture Family Food Friendship Humor Parties Risk  pumpkin makeup halloween communal water chocolate bar

I can’t understand the rationale behind applying special Halloween make-up and then dunking your head in a tub of communal water, all for the prize of grabbing an apple. I need more incentive.

When I was a kid, apples were not my friend on Halloween. People who handed out chocolate bars? Now those were folks forever etched in my heart. The larger the bar, the more respect they wielded in the neighborhood.

Besides apples shunned by us sugar-loving kids, pumpkins are also given a bad rap on October 31. Sure, they’re respected over Thanksgiving when they sacrifice their lives for our pumpkin pies, but come Halloween we develop short memories. Instead of revering them, we cut, scoop and hack away, defacing pumpkins into leering jack-o’-lanterns. Then, we let them shrivel to unrecognizable pulps before tossing them into a compost bin or the next trash pick-up. Talk about ‘dissing an innocent gourd.

Know who else gets a bad rap? Teenagers. The rumor that floated through school at Halloween was the same every year: “Look out for those AWFUL teenagers! As soon as they spot you walking with a full bag, they’ll steal your candy!”

Sure, teenagers are notorious for egging windows and trimming trees with toilet tissue, but not all of them are evil. During one childhood Halloween, I almost made it home after a fruitful trick-or-treating mission. After saying goodbye to my friends, I looked over my shoulder for those awful teenagers. I was a mere six doors from home when the unthinkable happened: my bag of treats – weighed down by apples – tore and spilled my candy onto the street! Horrified, I ran home crying.

Before I could explain the tear-choked tragedy to my mother, our doorbell rang.

“Gee, that’s a grown-up looking trick-or-treater,” Mom said after peering through the window. She opened the door to one of those awful teenagers. He’d taken off his jacket and gathered my candy. Since he watched me run home, he followed.

My mom whispered that I should give him a reward for his kindness, so I surrendered several of my most-coveted chocolate bars.

From then, I wasn’t frightened by teenagers on Halloween. Instead, I’ve developed a fear of dentists because in addition to collecting candy, I garnered a few cavities that year.

If you’re still brave enough (read: crazy) to bob for apples at your Halloween party, insist on going first. The last contestants in line have a tough time breaking through the oil slick of grease paint on the water’s surface. And don’t invite me unless you plan to bob for something good, like diamonds or a plane ticket to Honolulu. For that I’ll smudge my make-up.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN to teenagers everywhere. I’m thrilled if you’re reading my post. That means you’re not out egging our car.

Audio verison song
Old Salooner Blues
by
Midnite North

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Cracked Bottoms & Missing Heads

Shannon Kernaghan Shannon-and-the-jar Cracked Bottoms & Missing Heads Culture Food Humor Lifestyle Relationship Travel  treasure pickled beets look for treasure junk finding treasure cookie jar clown cookie jar antiques

You’ve heard this before: one person’s junk is another’s treasure. I’d hoped to find some serious pickings when Paul and I traveled to an advertised swap meet. I thought swap meet equated garage sale or flea market, where everything from antiques to pickled beets would line the tables and booths.

Not at this swap meet. Grinning people carried tire rims, bumper parts and steering wheels through the parking lot. We decided to bail on the quest since our car has all the parts it deserves and besides, we were in search of different treasure.

Our quest began after a move, when we discovered that the lid to a clown-shaped cookie jar had vanished. The jar had been a wedding gift to his parents, and Paul has fond memories of sneaking cookies while his family watched TV in the living room. The lid was broken and re-glued a few times, yet that didn’t lesson the emotional value.

Obsessed with finding a replacement lid, he e-mailed every cookie jar club on the internet. He discovered a match-making site that does nothing but catalogue people seeking cookie jar parts. It’s a virtual dating site for lovelorn jars! I never knew there were so many bottomless heads and headless bottoms across the globe.

Since no matching lid turned up, my cousin suggested Paul foray into the magical land of eBay. That’s where Paul found success, and not simply once. Within a month, he had four duplicates of his cookie jar shipped from four states. Each one up for auction was in better condition than the previous, which is why Paul couldn’t resist bidding.

Between the exchange rate on the US dollar and the expense of shipping, we could have bought ourselves a new piece of furniture. Or hired a couple of real clowns who’d make cute balloon animals for us while we clapped and cheered.

“Now we can have a clown jar in every room,” Paul said with enthusiasm. Yippee. At least they’re painted in different color combinations.

When I told my cousin about our replacements, he laughed and said, “The problem is that you’re still stuck with a headless torso. It just doesn’t feel right, knowing there’s a clown head at large. That’s the stuff of nightmares.” Thanks for reminding me.

Oh well, maybe we’ll decide to move again. There’s always the chance that a certain box marked COOKIE JARS – FRAGILE might go missing.

Send in the clowns.

Enjoy a Kindle book for $2.99

Shannon Kernaghan Street-Billboard-600-4book Cracked Bottoms & Missing Heads Culture Food Humor Lifestyle Relationship Travel  treasure pickled beets look for treasure junk finding treasure cookie jar clown cookie jar antiques

 

Audio story music track
“Elevator”
by Fascinating Earthbound Objects

Slow Down & Smell the Borscht

Shannon Kernaghan Borscht-for-Post-400 Slow Down & Smell the Borscht Culture Easter Festivals Food Humor Lifestyle Parties Relationship Travel Ukranian  World Famous Pysanka Ukrainian Pysanka Festival Canada Day borscht

My friend  gave me a book entitled In Praise of Slow by Carl Honoré. The author investigates the phenomenon of slow living – slow food, cooking, traveling, napping and sex. Honoré writes that going slow is a way to be more efficient in the unavoidably fast parts of your life.

Sure, I love speed – fast Internet, fast replies and fast planes to name a few. Speed helps me accomplish the obligations in my life while leaving free time to enjoy the areas I prefer. Like napping. (Assume I’d say sex? Never realized I had a speed issue.)

Last summer my husband and I celebrated Canada Day by taking a slow trek through Alberta. We headed for the Ukrainian Pysanka Festival in Vegreville, Alberta, where we saw the World Famous Pysanka – a gigantic Easter egg.

Not only did we plan to enjoy the festival’s rich heritage and food, but we also wanted to take township and range roads for part of the journey.

We cruised over gravel terrain because we wanted it all and we wanted it slow. Let fast traffic take the highways, we reasoned. Instead, we traveled at 25 mph, took pictures of moose and deer grazing along quiet roads, and literally stopped to smell the Alberta wild roses.

When you spot more wildlife than people, you know you’re taking the slow road. My husband pulled over to photograph an abandoned schoolhouse at the edge of a field. An impressive spear of lightning zigzagged behind him and he started to race towards our truck. Fast.

“What a baby!” I called out. “That lightning is miles away.” And then he pointed.

Two wolf-sized dogs tore towards him from the other end of the road. Since my back was turned, I hadn’t seen them appear. No barking, they were serious. And by the way they bared their teeth and raised their hackles, they weren’t greeting him with open paws.

When it comes to running from snapping jaws, fast is advisable. We hopped into our truck and slammed the doors.

At the Vegreville festival, we ate wonderful Ukrainian cooking and listened to live polka music. Then we bought loaves of bread baked – slow – in clay ovens. Our treasure d’jour was the ice cream pail of beet borscht we purchased to take home.

Once home, we dipped into our borscht supply non-stop.

“Slow down, pace yourself,” my husband said when I gestured towards the soup pot with my ladle. “I can’t handle more than one bowl an hour.”

When it comes to slowing down, I’m not perfect but I try. Neither is the author of In Praise of Slow. I read that he got a speeding ticket while researching his book.

*Jonesing for holopchi and perogies? Check out this year’s July 7-9 Pysanka Festival in Vegreville, AB.

 

 

Audio version song
Jazz in Paris
by
Media Rights Productions

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For Marshmallows, White or Red Wine? 

Shannon Kernaghan wine-display-e1493578377399 For Marshmallows, White or Red Wine?  Food Drinking Humor Relationship  wine and marshmallows red wine men grocery shopping jet puffed marshmallows food wine

You know your partner has a long road to travel in the field of personal development when you hear, “What kind of wine goes best with marshmallows?”

I thought I heard wrong, but then watched my husband walk past carrying a glass of red and a bag of Jet-Puffed marshmallows.

I’m no more developed. “What kind are they, plain or flavored?”

He read from the package: “Six favorite flavors.”

“Then you can probably go with any kind. For plain, I’d recommend white wine.”

This is what I get for letting him shop without me. Instead of returning with bread, milk and toilet paper, he arrives smiling with ice cream bars, a box of Froot Loops and a bag of marshmallows.

“Didn’t you get the bread? Where’s the toilet paper? What about my list?” While plowing through bags, I realize that a ten-year-old would have made more prudent choices. Apparently treats packed with coloring agents and emulsifiers are now part of the Food Guide.

“What list?” he answered. “Here, have an ice cream bar.”

I’ve been with the same man long enough that we finish each other’s sentences. Sometimes I finish his songs. When he stood at the counter stirring a mug of coffee, I heard him sing, “Honey in my coffee, sugar in my tea….” He paused.

“Amalgam in your molars!” I called out. He doesn’t need voice lessons; he needs Splenda.

While still in the kitchen and before I stop picking on Paul, what’s the deal with him and my dish towels? Although dust can settle until I need a leaf blower to find the TV remote, I do need order when it comes to my kitchen towels.

I have towels for two purposes: the cute ones neatly folded on the oven door are for drying dishes while the faded ones under the sink are for wiping the floor.

I need to draw a better map because I consistently find my cute hand towels balled and abandoned in a corner of the kitchen after being used to wipe up wet slops and greasy spills. Or, I’ll find the pots he decides to scrub every Groundhog Day and crop circle sighting piled high on my cute hand towels. He could simply leave them to dry in the dishwasher.

My eyes invariably dart to the naked oven door. Dammit! I’m one Froot Loop away from attaching a short chain, like those pens at the bank.

I don’t get it. Was the man of my dreams born missing the Kitchen gene? If he ever had the elusive K-gene, it’s become defunct, much like the appendix.

Genes aside, I’ve a more pressing question: what does the Kraft Kitchen mean by “Jet-Puffed” when they market their marshmallows? Better pass me a green one and a glass of red. I need a hit of energy after all of this deep thinking.

And hands off my hand towels.

 

 

Audio version song
“Sweeney”

by
Mike Relm

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